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Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future


The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.

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By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 16, 2021

This photo is from the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Camp Bronson in 1936.  Camp is located in the far northwest corner of the state.
This is certainly a lot of pies!

Fancy shoes!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 13, 2021

This canvas and leather shoes with French heels were worn by Vera V. Cole of Minneapolis circa 1895. 
The shoes feature razor toes, punched hole decorations, and red silk laces.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 12, 2021

This steel straight razor with faux tortise shell handle is marked "Gibson Barber Supply Co. / Duluth, Minn" on one side. It was made and used between 1900-20.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 11, 2021

This 1950 screen print by Clement Haupers is titled "Nocture."
It shows a view from an interior through a window; in the foreground is a table with vase and 1 flower. A full moon and clouds can be seen through the window.

Boca Chica Menu

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 10, 2021

Who doesn't love an old menu?
Boca Chica was founded by Guillermo and Gloria Frias in 1964. This menu is from 1966. 
Check out these prices!

Book Lovers Day

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 9, 2021

Today is International Book Lovers Day!

Oh, what to pick out of the over 500,000 printed pieces in the MNHS Library's hard!

When in doubt, go with the earliest. This map came from the book by Father Louis Hennepin, sometimes called "Minnesota's first author," titled "A Description of Louisiana, newly discovered to the South-West of New Franc." It was published in Paris in 1683 and detailed his travels; life among the Dakota; and the "discovery" of St. Anthony Falls. However, from the get-go the book was a blend of myth and fact, which only got more elaborate with each subsequent editions. Regardless, it is still an early, important work that fed the European dreams of the New World.

Lewis's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 6, 2021

Today is our beloved colleague Patrick Coleman's last day before retirement.
In honor of that, we present this Little Blue Book version of Sinclair Lewis's Nobel Prize speech, published in 1931. It was entitled "The American Fear of Literature."
The goal of Little Blue Books, which were cheap and widely available in the early 20th century, was to spread great literature and ideas as widely as possible, to as many people as possible. The size was such that they would fit into one's pocket.

Enjoy retirement and keep sharing those ideas, Patrick!

Baseball Player

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 5, 2021

This photo is of a St. Paul Saints baseball player signing baseballs in 1940.
It forms part of Minneapolis and St. Paul Newspaper Negative Collection.

Hair Jewelry

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 4, 2021

Every so often we need to pause and remember that this was a thing: hair jewelry.
These pieces, including matching brooch and the earrings, were made from the hair of the donor's mother and father in the late 19th century, probably around 1880.
Hair jewelry was very popular at that time both as a memento, hobby, and fashion.

Duck Boat

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 3, 2021

This green painted wood duck boat was made by John Freet of Parker's Prairie Boat Works located in Parker's Prairie, circa 1933.